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University of Adelaide
Graduate Electrical Engineer
Dane Merkel studied Electrical Engineering at University of Adelaide.
What's your name and job title?
Dane Merkel. I am a graduate electrical engineer in the asset performance team. I graduated July 2016.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the border of NSW and Victoria. I moved to Central Queensland in 2012 to start university after two years of hospitality work. Since then I have studied and worked in Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Brisbane, plus completed a snow season in Japan and travelled parts of Europe twice.
How did you get to your current job position?
Applied for a graduate position with TasNetworks online and attended the graduate resourcing day. I’ve been here a bit over one and a half years.
What does your employer do?
Our core business is delivering power to our customers. We own and operate the transmission and distribution power network for Tasmania.
What are your areas of responsibility?
As a graduate, we change roles every six months to gain experience in different areas of the business. In my current role, I help ensure our asset management strategies are effective and support our service reliability program. I also helped prepare the businesses revenue proposal submission.
Can you describe a typical workday?
Not easily! It changes often but it always involves learning something new, and Microsoft Excel! In the mornings I like to work on reporting and information gathering and in the afternoons I like to work on developing relationships and sharing that information.
I’ve recently started setting aside some “me” time to reflect on what has happened and plan where to next.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study?
To be an engineer you’ll want to study engineering. If the opportunity exists I would recommend learning how to:
- Communicate effectively – knowing everything is useless if you can’t share it.
- Network and build professional relationships – these people will help you succeed.
- Extract genuine feedback from those around you – both good and bad. Not always an easy task.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
There is a spot for every person, you just need to find your niche. The people I look up to are great communicators and take the time to help others succeed.
What do you love the most about your job?
I’ve got an excellent work-life balance, and can really influence what I learn each day. I enjoy the variety of work too, there is a good mix of technical analysis and working with other people.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
Being a Tasmanian company, the opportunity to work abroad doesn’t really exist. Working in a large company can make finding answers to questions hard, and university really only teaches you how much you still have to learn.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I’d be a professional snow bum – probably in Sweden or Japan right now.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?
- Take up a team sport. The skills you learn are directly transferable to any work environment. It’s also good for you!
- It’s okay to fail. Take the time to learn from your mistakes.
- Never think you’re better than a tradie – they have years of practical experience, and are generally happy to help if you ask them.